PECOTA projections at Baseball Prospectus are always to be celebrated. The amount of work that goes into creating them - the tweaking, the percentiles - all lead to give us a vast swath of outcomes for each of the players in the league. They’re usually pretty accurate and, along with ZiPS, provide us with a reasonable expectation for the different players on the team. This year’s version of PECOTA projections were released yesterday and while we would always recommend you subscribe to BP, we’ll make a few notes of what was interesting that we noticed.
*all stats given, unless noted, are the 50th percentile stats
The shortstop fight will be interesting
The shortstop competition, when it starts, is going to come down to Didi Gregorius and Bryson Stott. Barring a change of heart by ownership that has them bidding on the services of one of the two stars left over in free agency, this is where the battle will lie. If PECOTA is to be believed, these two players are in for a fight.
Gregorius: .245/.311/.410, 17 HR, 78 RBI, 1.3 WARP
Stott: .245/.326/.373, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 0.1 WARP
Now, these numbers all come down to playing time. Gregorius’ numbers are based on a full season’s worth of plate appearances while Stott’s are based on 88. Extrapolation of those numbers will likely lead to more counting stats, but the percentages will be about the same. There isn’t much of a difference between the two except for Gregorius’ power numbers, which should be higher than Stott’s. PECOTA places a lot of weight on track record and Gregorius has simply had a longer major league track record than Stott’s. Using the minor league numbers Stott has put up and trying to interpret how he’ll perform in the majors leaves us with numbers that might be disappointing at first, but give some hope that he can be better than that. His 99th percentile numbers here aren’t much better (.259/.345/.413) since they are still basing it off of playing time, but it’s still right around the range we might expect of him.
One thing that should be noted is that with regards to Gregorius, should he put up even these 50th percentile numbers, the team would likely be fine with that and would let Stott marinate in the minors. It’s probably the best for both players and team if this comes to fruition. But if these projections for Stott are to be believed and if Gregorius puts up numbers more comparable to 2021 than these, we’re likely to see the successor take over sooner rather than later.
This team needs some power
These are the highest projected slugging percentages on the Phillies as currently constructed. You can probably guess who they belong to.
What PECOTA is trying to reinforce to us is that it is critical for the team to add offense to this lineup as soon as the lockout is over and the transaction freeze is lifted. The free agents that are there for the taking - Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, Kris Bryant - all have projections that see their slugging percentages in the .430-.470 range, plenty high enough to add some punch to the currently wilting lineup the Phillies have. We have written about it here, it has been written about in other places, hell, even the president of baseball operations said it.
This team needs offense. The projections drive this home.
PECOTA is a believer in Ranger Suarez
Last year, Ranger Suarez was possibly the most pleasant surprise on the team. Sure, having the NL MVP on the team was pleasant, but we all knew Bryce Harper had that kind of season in him. Having the runner up in Cy Young voting was pleasant, but Zack Wheeler has been trending that way for a while. Hardly anyone saw the success Suarez had last year coming and PECOTA, for one, believes it’s real.
Ranger Suarez: 27 GS, 132 IP, 3.16 BB/9, 8.62 K/9, 54.5 GB%, 3.46 ERA (4.37 DRA)
These are solid numbers for a 50th percentile projection of a pitcher that had success in two different roles last year. With the team possessing a solid 1-2 punch atop the rotation (PECOTA thinks Aaron Nola bounces back quite well), getting this type of production from Suarez would make them a pretty fearsome top three starters. We can’t bank on it, of course, and there is always the possibility that Suarez might get hurt as he gets more stretched out, but this is something that was sort of unexpected. He was good in 2021 and PECOTA thinks he’ll be good again in 2022.